WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE, SAYS LISHONE' GENOVESE

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What if I were to tell you a magnificent story of a woman who grew up in the New York foster care system, and then persisted through life to establish an award-winning and respectable publishing business. Lishone' Genovese -- author, editor, public speaker, and a mentor to many -- is that very woman. 

Just like the blushing heroine in a novel, Genovese had to walk her path to discover her calling. She worked various positions until she used her passion for books and created Zls Publishing in 2007. As CEO and author of several books, this New York native had set out a mission to serve self-published and traditonal authors on their literary dreams. Later as her business grew, so had her vision. The city where her own dreams began in Albany, New York had expanded to Los Angeles and Houston, Texas -- and she's far from finished. 

Lishone' is the epitome of the American dream, the swan from a time ago into a powerhouse Chief Executive Officer. The story she's creating everyday is the type you can't write without a gripping ending. Fortunately for Genovese, she's not ready to have one, because her narrative is not over. 


Imani: This is a big deal for The Lounge, because this week, Lishone' Genovese of ZLS Publishing is our guest. First off, welcome and it's truly an honor. Let's start off with a simple icebreaker. Share with us your impressive background, as well as the woman behind the award-winning publishing business?

Lishone’: I've been in book publishing since 1997. I got started in publishing after winning a writing contest for a small book publisher in New York City.  Part of my prize was writing for a national magazine they published. It was that defining moment that started it all. I wrote for that magazine for 10 years. I also worked for them and learned a lot about publishing, editing, and business. In addition to publishing, I worked as a Chief of Staff within the New York State Assembly. Although, I was great at writing, it wasn't what I initially wanted to do in my adult life. In my childhood, I had wanted to be a writer, but then again, I wanted to be a lot of things. In my adult life, I wanted to be a Supreme Court Judge. I initially worked with the law field and loved it. I have a passion for justice. I then went to work within the political arena and hated it. It was my stint at the Assembly that told me that this was not the career I was meant to have. I started at the Assembly as an Fellow, moved up to Committee Assistant. It was my second boss while a Committee Assistant who gave me issues. She was new, as my old boss who had hired me retired right after hiring me. My new boss came in and made sure to tell me she wouldn't have hired me, even though I was highly qualified. I was also the only minority in the whole department and she made it clear that she wasn't a fan of me because of that. She did think I was qualified enough though that she made me a trainer of the new people she hired. After training them and she promoting them for the third time, I was beyond pissed and was ready to quit. She called me into her office, told me I was smart, did a great job, knew this business, but if I wanted to get promoted I'd have to change my personality. My personality was good enough to train people, but it wasn't good enough to be promoted. In other words, she was telling me, I need to kiss ass, her ass if I wanted to get promoted. I grew up in the New York City Foster Care System. I don't know now, and didn't know then how to kiss anybody's ass. I worked hard to get where I was at and it didn't happen because I kissed ass, it happened most likely because of the opposite of that. I went back to my desk and prayed to show me my calling. I heard publishing. I said okay to myself, started looking for publishing companies, found none in my area at the time and decided to create my own. As for my boss, I showed her what changing my personality looked like. After I got my answer about publishing, I went for a walk. I ran into an Assemblymember who needed a Chief of Staff. I spoke with her and she hired me on the spot. The next day, I came into work and went straight to my new job. My old boss was pissed. I didn't stay too much longer because I opened my company. It was because of this drama I went on to my calling. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Tell us more about ZLS Publishing and its mission.

ZLS Publishing opened for business May 2007. The mission of ZLS is to help writers and authors. We are committed to the success of books, and the authors who write them. Our publishing model is designed to help all authors be as successful as they desire to be, regardless of whether we publish them or not. We have a traditional publishing division, and we provide self-publishing services to authors who desire to go the self-publishing route and need editing, cover design, interior book design, ebook formatting, etc. The traditional publishing division has five imprints. The imprints include the genres in which we publish traditionally, which include: Children and Teen/Tweens, Women's Lit and Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal/Paranormal Romance, Non-fiction, and Sci-fi/Fantasy/Thriller.  We are a publishing company that speaks openly and honestly to authors and aspiring authors. We don't believe in lying to authors because they'll find out the truth their experiences anyway, but to be forewarned is to be forearmed. So if we can answer their questions, give them some heads up, and just give them some tips, we believe we can help keep them from going through a lot of unnecessary things in publishing, especially if they listen to us.

I'm a fan of your articles on LinkedIn; they're informative for new and seasoned authors alike. One of the articles that had stood out titled, It's Great Time to Write a Book. Explain why that is so.

I am so glad you read my posts on LinkedIn. That's awesome to know. Thank you for that. This article was originally written in celebration of National Novel Writing Month in November, and even though this celebration is over, it is still a great time to write a book. Anytime you have a book inside of you itching to get out, it is a great time to write a book. There are also these benefits: 1)  It makes a great gift. With it being the holiday season, what better gift to give than your book. There are also anniversaries and birthdays, 2) Use your book to show what stands you out from the "rest of the pack." Show your uniqueness. 3) Use your book to create brand recognition. Write your book, tell your story, get noticed, and stay remembered. 4) Use it to start making different products behind it. Don't just write the book, but create spin-offs from them. Create audio books, home study kits, tele-seminars, coaching programs, DVD's, CD's, etc. to easily generate more money, and 5) Use the book to start going around to speak your message. Think back of the room sales.

They say that 80% of people believe they have a book in them. If you are one of those 80% don't keep the book in you, get it out. If you don't, it will hound you until you do.

What is the common mistake new authors make when it comes to self-publishing?

 Looking to get everything done for free or dirt cheap. With places like CreateSpace publishing for "free" and these so-called editors charging $1-$2 a page for editing, new authors go looking to get their book done cheap or for free. The problem with that is, that nothing of quality comes free or cheap. Apple products are not cheap or free, neither is Samsung. Why? Because they are quality products and so they cost. Anything made of quality is going to cost. It has been proven time and time again that cheap and free comes at a cost. Time and time again, we've seen authors pay double, triple, and even sometimes quadruple in pricing for everything from editing to formatting because they wanted cheap. They go cheap with one, that one messes them up, and instead of searching for quality and experience, they go to another cheap person, and keep repeating the same asinine habit until they've depleted their bank account, and can no longer afford to correct their book. Had they done their research, went with the right person from the jump, and spent their money wisely the first time, they could have avoided this always costly mistake.

 "Anytime you have a book inside of you itching to get out, it is a great time to write a book." - Lishone' Genovese


Since you're a developmental editor, what's your methodology of a solid storyline?

My methodology includes two things: whether or not the storyline makes any sense, and whether or not it evokes some sort of emotion. I've read some flatlined stories that are so methodical, they read like text books. I've read some story lines that made no sense at all logically or because they were too far-fetched to make any sense. Readers are intelligent, they are analytical, they are methodical. When they read, it has to resonate with them, it has to make some sort of sense. The moment they read something and is like, "Wait! What?" there is something wrong with the story. They will put it down and they might right a bad review on it. Too many authors underestimate readers, which is the worst thing to do. A story has to have a compelling storyline. It has to evoke emotion and it has to make some sort of sense, even if it's fictional.

Besides a solid storyline is its characters -- what makes a compelling character?

A compelling character is one who can invoke emotion from the reader. Your character needs to have some type of personality. They need to either be liked or hated, but they have to have something work liking or hating. They cannot be dry and have no personality. Those that do are disliked and written about badly in reviews. The time should be taken to draw out the character. That is vital. Just like in real life, people don't like people with no personality, the same goes when reading a book. You'd rather have a character that is disliked because of their personality, than have a character that is disliked because they have no personality.

From the writing process to a subject some authors would cringe, and that's marketing. Explain the difference between marketing and public relations.

Book marketing is the process of getting your book in front of the reader. It is also the combination of advertising, publicity, and distribution that gets the word out about your book. It is more than bookmarks and posters. It is more than book trailers and book tours. It is about building relationships using these three tools that get your book sold, and if the inside and outside is done well, (professional cover design, professional editing) you give your book a better chance of making the bestseller list. Book marketing focuses on encouraging people to buy the book. The goal of book marketing is to get sales. Book marketing is an entire plan that gets you and your book noticed. Public relations is just one tool used to market your book. It includes generating and crafting headlines for your book, planting stories about you or your book, finding a variety of placements, helping with creating content-hungry blog posts, accompaniment on tours, and creating social media campaigns to build buzz.

When we hear the word "branding", we may think of companies like, Coca Cola or Verizon; but what about authors? Why is it important to have a brand, and more of importantly, why is there a need to stay consistent? 

My hope is that when authors here the word branding they think of Zane, Maya Angelou, George Martin. While Coca Cola or Verizon are great brands, they are not the type of brands authors need to be focused on. Authors need to focus on author brands and learn from them. Your brand is what you are remembered for. Zane is remembered as an erotica brand. Maya Angelou is remembered for her poetic brand, and George Martin is remembered for his fantasy/sci-fi brand. It is imperative you get known for something. You can change things up. James Patterson started off writing crime thrillers for adults and ended up doing crime thrillers for teens. The author of Harry Potter did something similar. She started with teen books and switched to writing adult books. You can be successful at these things if you have a brand to begin with. Get known for something. Make people flock to you for something. Then they will buy anything you write, regardless of the genre or the target audience.

If a new or an aspiring author is reading this, how does one build a platform?

The first thing they need to do is get a plan. Like building a house, you cannot build one without a plan. You must have a plan! You cannot throw your dream at the publishing wall and hope it sticks. It's NOT! I'm telling you it's not, and it never will. If you think that you can stand out from the crowd and make it stick just because you threw something at it, you will see how disappointed you'll be. You have to have a plan. You have to have a thoroughly written out plan. Every author who has ever won an award, been nominated for an award, made the bestseller list of some sort did so because they had a plan. Having a plan works in publishing. You have a plan and you work on that plan. It is not enough just to write it down, you have to implement it. If you can't, you hire someone to help you implement it, like you hire a contractor to build your house. You want to get known, there are steps that have to be taken to do that. No one, unless they win the lottery gets known overnight. You create a plan, get a team and build from there.

Now let's talk about you -- Lishone' Genovese, which is a beautiful name by the way. You've published six books and have written for several magazines. Do you have plans to publish another book anytime soon?

I've actually published 8 books and have indeed written for several magazines. Right now, I'm focused on marketing my current book which is a step-by-step marketing guide for struggling authors and aspiring authors. It's that plan on building a platform I was just talking about.  It is a step by step guide on how to do that. In addition to the step-by-step guide on book marketing, it includes resources for authors on where to go to find readers for their books. I'm focused on marketing that and teaching authors and aspiring authors what's in that book.


Lishone' to the left
"Every author who has ever won an award, been nominated for an award, made the bestseller list of some sort did so because they had a plan. Having a plan works in publishing. You have a plan and you work on that plan. It is not enough just to write it down, you have to implement it."



I stand corrected: It's 8 books. Now, your colleagues and clients know of your honesty and professionalism. So when you're not wearing your CEO hat, what do you do to wind down?

When I'm not working, I'm hanging out with my friends, being a mom to my daughter and working on my spirituality. I have one child, and she is 10, and she is into a lot of activities, and so that keeps me pretty busy. I'm hanging out with friends doing stuff like movies, playing spades, cooking with them and just overall relaxing. I am very much into the metaphysical and my religion is Santerian, and I spend a lot of time focused on keeping myself spiritually grounded. My friends and my daughter keep me physically grounded, and my religion keeps me spiritually grounded, and the combination of both helps me to wind down.

We all have that person(s) who have helped shape our craft. If that person(s) were here right now, what would you say to them?

My answer is going to surprise you. As I stated earlier, I grew up in the New York City Foster Care system where I had several foster mothers. One in particular would beat me every time she caught me writing or found something I wrote. She would tear up my bed or my room in her house looking for something I wrote, and when she found it, I would get beat. She had wanted to be an English teacher. She went to college but got pregnant and had to marry the father of her child, so she couldn't complete her degree and realize her dream. I came into her house writing everything. Writing was therapeutic for me, so I wrote. The fact that I could write drove her nuts. The fact that I would write, drove her nuts. It was her beating me that made me realize that I had a talent. No one puts that much effort into someone who they aren't jealous of in some sort of way. If I could see her again, I'd thank her. Her abuse made me want to be a writer. Her abuse was one of the reasons I hate injustices and was attracted to the field of law. She thought she was breaking me, when in fact she was helping to make me. So I'd thank her.

It's not surprising at all. Some time in our lives we consider as our worst, created us to be our best. I can vouch for that, as well.

So, what's in store for ZLSPublishing in 2015?

To grow it into a multi-million dollar company. I'm serious too. I have a New York office, and now I have a Southern California office. My goal is to continue to grow those offices.  I have a few authors with books coming out in 2015, which are great, and I have no doubts will be like my other authors who have been nominated for awards and made bestseller lists. The goal is to keep ZLS Publishing up to date with the latest happenings in publishing and to keep trends of that. The goal for 2015 is growth. That's the focus. Growing my authors, growing their brands, growing my company, growing my brand. It's the year of growth.

Thank you, Lishone' for this insightful interview. If anyone is in need for your services, where should they find you online, along with your contact information?


You can find us on our website, first and foremost-which is: http://www.zlspublishing.com. You can then find us on twitter and our hashtag is: @zlspub. You can find us on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/zlspublishing/ and on Facebook. Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/ZLSPublishing.LLC.


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